Multisport: Lost bet leads to huge challenge

Emma Luxton at Paradise Valley near Queenstown. Photo supplied.
Emma Luxton at Paradise Valley near Queenstown. Photo supplied.
University of Otago physical education student Emma Luxton hopes Arsenal's loss will be the Coast to Coast's gain.

Luxton is preparing to compete in the great multisport event for the first time, nine months after losing a bet.

She was watching her beloved Arsenal play Queen's Park Rangers with a friend - a QPR fan - when the conversation turned to the Coast to Coast.

Luxton, who had previously crewed for her mother when she competed in the event, agreed to enter herself if Arsenal lost. QPR won 2-1 and Luxton found herself Kumara-bound.

Getting to the start line on February 8 has proved a mission for the 21-year-old but she is determined to honour both the bet and the friend, who later died.

The $1027 cost of entry and other financial commitments were not taken into consideration when the bet was struck. This has proved a massive undertaking in itself.

''I didn't own a bike, or any mountain running gear,'' Luxton said.

''I had some savings, but not that much. So I organised a pub quiz day and got as many people to come as I could.''

Luxton also approached local businesses and was grateful to receive some help.

With bartering skills picked up from her father, Paul Luxton, she obtained a bike and other gear for reasonable prices. She also acquired the required grade 2 kayaking certificate through an Otago Polytechnic contact for much less than the going rate of $1000-plus.

Concerned her kayaking skills might still be lacking, Luxton recently met up with a group paddling the Mohaka River. Eight of the group are also contesting the Coast to Coast.

''It was a huge confidence boost. I only came out of the boat twice. The others came out heaps.

''It probably helped that I am doing the race in a borrowed Barracuda Beachcomber kayak, and others are doing it in multisport boats that I can't even sit in without falling out.''

Sport, and particularly football, has played a major role in Luxton's life. Her father is from London and grew up an avid Arsenal supporter.

She began playing football seven years ago, representing Kapiti Coast at under-17 level for three years before coming to Dunedin to study.

Luxton has played for Otago University for the past three years, in both premier and senior women's grades, winning the golden boot award this year. Her talent as a midfielder or striker was recognised when she was selected to play for Footballsouth in the national women's league last year.

She is gaining an insight into the game during the holidays through work experience in events management for the Wellington Phoenix.

Luxton also entered the full Dunedin marathon in September, recording a creditable time of 4hr 32min to finish 26th in the women's section, on no experience and solely a fitness base from football.

''It took me four days to recover,'' she said.

''Initially, I had entered the half-marathon as two of my flatmates had also entered the half. One pointed out that the Coast to Coast is pretty much a marathon plus a long bike ride on day one, so wondered if I should be doing the full.

''To which I said, `Yeah, good point, better enter the full, then'.''

Between work, football and university studies, her training for the marathon was limited to one 20km training run.

After the marathon, Luxton realised how much training she needed to do, so upped the ante with runs up the Pineapple Track and cycling around the peninsula.

She will be joined on the two-day course on February 8 by her mother, Carol Exton, who will be contesting the event for the third time.

''I have two goals: One to finish, the other to beat my mum.''